Day At The Track

Young couple chasing their biggest prize

07:51 PM 09 Feb 2017 NZDT
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Qld 4yo Mattgregor has drawn gate 10 in the Gr.1 $200k Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on Saturday night.
Dan Costello

The Turpin/McMullen harness racing stables are hoping to finish the week better than it started.

The young Queensland couple of Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen are preparing a large team in Sydney at Menangle headlined by their classy four-year-old pacer Mattgregor who starts in Saturday night’s Gr.1 $200,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots of Fire.

This was the main focus of their maiden southern campaign.

But it could’ve been over before it started.

On Monday, McMullen was working recent New Zealand purchase Fire One when the three-year-old filly became erratic and uncontrollable before crashing heavily.

The filly was sent to the nearby Camden Veterinary University while McMullen was left to dust himself off and hobble along nursing a sore ankle.

“The filly put on a bucking display and crashed into the fence and dumped Pete quite heavily, the filly ended up with a number of cuts and abrasions while Pete hurt his ankle. I was worried Pete might have done some serious damage but he said it was ok, he took drives on Tuesday and he’s not going to miss driving Bear (Mattgregor) this weekend.” Turpin said.

Mattgregor is the stable star, the New Zealand bred gelding has won 8 of his 13 starts to date and qualified for the feature after coming from last to run a half neck second to Dashofluck in the Paleface Adios Stakes in a time of 1:50 two weeks ago.

This weekend, Mattgregor will start at big odds after being slammed with the worst draw, gate 10, the outside draw in the 1609m sprint feature.

Most experts are predicting a sub 1:50 mile rate.

“Our mission was to qualify for this race, that’s been the target since he started in the Queensland Derby last July and we’ve made it so that’s an effort in itself. After being made an emergency in the Hondo Grattan we were left wondering if we would even get a chance to prove ourselves but we got there in the end.

“His last start second in the Paleface Adios was his best run to date, he had no right to get as close as he did that night and his sectionals were just unbelievable.  He’s trained on well since and now we’re just relying on luck from the draw.

“It’s a great field headed by Lazarus who looks freakish, the Purdon/Rasmussen have three excellent chances while all other runners boast excellent credentials. Bear has only had 13 career starts and we’re super proud of what he’s achieved to date and he’ll be better for this campaign going forward.”

Mattgregor is raced by Denis Golinski along with Karen & Jake Turpin after being purchased from the leading Christchurch stables of Mark Jones.

Queensland trained winners of the Chariots of Fire include Slipnslide (2005) and Lanercost (2011).

Other Queenslanders to contest the great race include Majestic Mach & Brigadier Bronski (2014 - Guaranteed), Sign To Inverell (2012 – Caribbean Blaster), Matai Zinga (2011 - Lanercost), Fleur De Lil & Be Diligent (2008 – Ebony Gem), Secretagent Cullen & Sir Galvinator (2006 – Innocent Eyes), Mister Martini (2005 - Slipnslide), Rollon Bigred (2004 - Elsu), Sparkling Melody (2003 – Oaxaca Lass), Five Star Comfort (2002 – Manifold Bay) plus Aquagold and Sailors Corner (2001 – Smooth Satin).

Chris Barsby

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